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Rooks Glad To Be Aboard

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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March 21, 2006

TORONTO (CP) -- The two newest members of the Maple Leafs didn't figure in the scoring, but defenceman Brendan Bell and right winger Alex Suglobov were happy just to be part Toronto's 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

"I've watched quite a few games (at the Air Canada Centre), but it's different being on that bench,'' said Bell, who was making his NHL debut.

Bell, 22, was Toronto's third-round pick (65th overall) in the 2001 entry draft. He had stints with the Leafs January and February but did not manage to get into a game either time.

"I was very excited to get the call and finally get in (to a game) when the puck dropped,'' said Bell.

Suglobov played in his first game as a Maple Leaf since he was acquired from New Jersey for Ken Klee at the trade deadline.

Both Suglobov and Bell made their Leaf debuts.

"It was a lot of fun,'' said Suglobov ."We win, and that's what we need to do right now.''

Bell logged exactly 14 minutes of ice time in a defensive pairing with Alexander Khavanov and did not disappoint Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn, whose team is locked in a desperate battle for a berth in the post-season.

"Bell did a real nice job tonight,'' said Quinn. "He stepped in and made some nice, crisp passes, his footwork was good and his coverage was good. I liked his game.''

Quinn said he appreciated the tenacity of Russian prospect Suglobov, who played on a line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov against Carolina.

"His first couple of shifts he showed confidence in himself,'' Quinn said. "He held the puck in the zone, took it up the (boards), avoided a check and made two or three nice passes.

"For his first game in, he did a nice job as well.''

The realization of a childhood dream really sunk in for Bell during a second-period stoppage in play.

"I realized I'm playing in the NHL - I'm finally here,'' said Bell, who had both parents and two of his three siblings watching from the ACC stands.

"It was a good game and I'm glad I was a part of it.''

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